Tuesday, September 24, 2013 —
RALEIGH — Biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are assuring the public that the outbreak of hemorrhagic disease in western North Carolina in 2012 will not result in a long-term decline in the area’s deer population, even in areas affected the most severely last year — Caldwell, Surry and Wilkes counties.
The deer herd in western North Carolina experienced a substantial outbreak of hemorrhagic disease last year, but the Wildlife Commission has not changed deer hunting regulations as a result of the disease outbreak. Hunters and landowners should consider the effects of the disease outbreak to be relatively short-lived and plan their harvest this fall accordingly, according to Chris Kreh, a wildlife biologist for the Commission.
“It is certainly okay for hunters to resume doe harvest as they have in the past, especially in areas where their objective is to control a robust and sometimes overabundant deer herd,” Kreh said.
“Doe harvest is a critical part of any deer management program.”
Kreh and other Commission biologists were able to examine the remains of more than 120 deer that died from the disease last year. By determining the sex and age of the dead deer, biologists were able to assess the disease’s impact on North Carolina’s deer herd.
“Probably the most interesting thing we found was that young does, those that were one or two years old, appeared to be less impacted by the disease than older does and antlered bucks of all ages,” Kreh said.
“These young does will be at their peak reproductive age for the next few years which will give the herd substantial opportunity to grow.”
Deer harvest during the 2012 hunting season was considerably lower in a few counties when compared to the 2011 season, according to Kreh. The total reported deer harvest in Caldwell, Surry and Wilkes counties was down by 39, 19 and 47 percent, respectively.
“This reduction in harvest was not simply a result of fewer deer surviving but also because hunters chose to voluntarily take fewer deer,” Kreh said.